Skip to main content

Is the Nexus 7 the D in your BYOD?

Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth. The obnoxious Back-to-School signs with their patronizing chalkboards and apples are up. I hated those signs when I was a kid, and I hate them now. Come to think of it, I can't stand most of the imagery associated with my profession. After 15 years teaching, I've never used a chalkboard, and I've never had a student bring me an apple, and that's a good thing.
 When I was a kid, the silver lining to Back-to-School season was called a Lamborghini Trapper Keeper.
For some kids and parents today, Back-to-school shopping means shopping for a gadget that can help them organize their school work. Everyone is talking about the iPad, but at $199, The Nexus 7 is a compelling device for those in schools like ours that are encouraging students to Bring-Your-Own-Device. It's great, but it's not perfect.


  • Speed  This thing flys. It goes from Sleep to Web in less than 8 seconds. 
  • Size  The seven inch screen size is really great for browsing the web, reading a book, and checking email. I can type quickly on the keyboard in portrait mode with my thumbs, and I love that it anticipates my word, not only by the first few letters I'm typing, but also by studying the context of the previous words. 
  • Smoothness  Google calls it Project Butter, and it is the element in the new Jelly Bean Android OS that makes navigating pages and content smooth. It's the first Android product that seems almost as smooth as an iOS device. 
  • Battery life  Sorry, but the alliteration is over. After playing with this for a week, I am confident that this will get any heavy user through a full day of taking notes, researching the web, and reading books on a single charge. 
  • Cost  $199? Amazing. 


  • Lack of textbooks  Apple's iBooks textbooks are awesome. I don't know of any school actually adopting them, but I have a couple on my iPad, and they're great. If a school is adopting these textbooks, they're probably not a BYOD school. I have written a public appeal to Amazon and Google to step up their textbook offerings, but they don't seem to be listening. You can get the Kindle App on this device and you can by books in the Play store, but so far there aren't compelling textbooks. 
  • No rear facing camera  When I initially saw that there was no RFC on this thing, I thought, "Who would want to use a tablet as a camera?" The answer: Students. It may look silly to take photos or video with a tablet, but the experience is awesome for students. The iPad is a legitimate video production machine. Students can storyboard, shoot, edit, and share on a single iPad. Not on the Nexus 7.
  • Doesn't replace a desktop / notebook / netbook  For high school students that are writing papers, building websites, and creating other digital media, this is not going to cut it. All of my students need consistent access to a "real" computer. 


The Nexus 7 is a great BYOD for students who have access to a "real" computer for working on their digital portfolios. If you need one device that does it all for under $300, I still highly recommend a netbook running Ubermix.

Popular posts from this blog

Assignment #1: Introduce Yourself

As I mentioned in my previous post, the first thing I do in class is have my students write and deliver two minute introductions. Obviously it gives me a sense of their writing and presentation skills, but more importantly it allows me to know who they are. Here's the prompt I give them:
Your first formal assignment is to compose and present a short introduction so I may better get to know you. I'm only looking for a two minute introduction. I would like you to type it out and then read it to the class. Make sure you save your work somewhere because I'm going to ask you to post it in your portfolio (more on that later). I'd like to get a sense of who you are and what your voice is. Not sure what to write? No problem ... here are some ideas to help get you started: What are you passionate about?What are some of your goals for the year? For your life?What is the most important physical object in your life? (take a photo of it and bring it to class)What is your greatest f…

A letter to my students and parents about the 20% Project

Dear Students and Parents of the York School 10th Grade Class,

I hope you all had an adventurous and energizing summer. I wanted to write to introduce myself and let you know a little bit about one of the unusual projects we’ll be taking on this year in English III.

In 2011 we began The 20% Project in English III. This is a major project-based-learning assignment that spans the entire school year and encourages students to pursue a creative interest they would otherwise not experience in our academic program at York.
Before I get into the details of the project, I want to explain why we’re asking students to participate in this activity. For over 20 years a trend in education has been gaining momentum that suggests the role of the teacher ought to shift away from an industrial model where the teacher stands in the front of the classroom to dispense knowledge through lectures, and the students sit to consume the information. Rather than being the “sage on the stage” as some …

It's time. Turn on 2-step Verification in your Google Account

If your Google account happens to be one of the billion Internet passwords The New York Times just reported to have been amassed by a Russian gang, then your docs, your mail, and your puppy photos are in the hands of a ... well ... Russian gang. Unless you have 2-Step Verification turned on.

We have no idea if any of these passwords are actually Google accounts, but really it makes no difference. The password system for proving that you are you is completely broken. Almost all passwords are weak even when websites say they're strong. If your password doesn't look like this ...
8.;=>#qH->8'6Mv  ... it's weak.

If it does look like that, then it's only secure as long as the Russian gang or any other hacker hasn't stolen it.

So far, the best way to protect your accounts is to use 2-Step Verification.

With 2-Step, access to your account requires not only something you know (password), but also something you have (your phone). After you have it turned on, each …